THE entrance to Snipe Lane, on the southern edge of Darlington, is guarded by a large stone animal drinking trough which, as Memories 359 established, was placed there in November 1913 by the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association.

It was to refresh the animals which were being driven into market.

But, said Susan Jaleel, go past the trough. Go down Snipe Lane and pass the entrance to Blackwell Grange Golf Club. Go past the houses, which used to be owned by the water board, and go beyond where the tarmac turns into a track. Don’t quite go as far as the River Skerne, otherwise you’ll get wet, but somewhere down there is Snipe Pond.

“It’s an idyllic spot which, as far as I know, is used only for fishing now,” she said. “I recommend that you go and take a look – children would love it.”

It was impossible to resist, and there on the edge of town, with the A66 whizzing over the river behind a curtain of trees, we discovered Snipe Pond.

It is a fishing spot, but also it is a historic site.

A wide set of stone steps walks grandly down into the duckweedy water. The margins are littered with old iron bits of rounded machinery that were once valves and, best of all, like the hand of the lady of the lake grasping at a sword, an old cog rises out of the middle of the pond. “I don’t have much history,” says Susan. “Apparently, it was part of the Victorian water treatment works.”

Memories, too, has failed to uncover the story of Snipe Pond, but Darlington Centre for Local Studies yields a wonderful Victorian picture of a fine industrial building, more ecclesiastical than sewerage treatment, standing in front of the lake. The footprint of the building can still be traced at the end of Snipe Lane, but can anyone tell us how it came to reach its watery grave?